With conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan garnering much of the international attention, the renewed civil war in northern Burma’s Kachin area is being largely overlooked. So, the Kachin National Organization(KNO) called for today, June 24th, to be a Global Day of Action to ring clear their demand for peace. Events are being held in the U.S., Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Read more here.
When I asked Gum San, one of the KNO organizers in the U.S., why the Kachin and other people from Burma were driving for 24+ hours to be in DC for the rally, he just strongly declared, “Well, it’s life or death for us.” He expressed further the urgent feeling of having to do something, anything to try and bring peace. Because of the resurge of fighting, thousands of people have been displaced, many hiding in local jungles as China does not allow them to come in. Moreover, this latest fighting has lead to people facing even greater human rights abuses. The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand has reported Burmese troops using rape as a weapon of war. Read more here. The Kachin people are stuck in the middle of a conflict that has no clear end.
This conflict is no surprise, it has been building for years as the military regime has refused to recognize and meet ethnic peoples demands for basic rights. The 2010 elections and its new constitution were a slap in the face to many ethnic people who have been demanding for decades a federal union where ethnic communities can have just political and social rights. And though the recent outbreak of conflict is the first severe fighting in Kachin state since the ceasefire in 1994, that does not mean there was peace and resolution under the ceasefire.
The KNO’s letter of invitation for the Global Day of Action states it clearly – “We do not want a cease-fire, we want PEACE. We do not need kindness, we want JUSTICE. We do not accept a forced referendum, we choose DEMOCRACY.”
It is a strong sign that the Kachin diaspora today is being joined by many other ethnic groups from Burma. They are coming together because their demands are all the same. All ethnic groups in Burma are facing human rights violations and severe discrimination from the military regime. The military regime’s disregard for the Kachin’s calls for a genuine peaceful resolution is a clear sign that this new government is not bringing change. Burma is the same as it was before, with top generals being allowed to do whatever they want to whomever they want.